Is E-mail, E-stale?

Last week's article focused on barriers credit unions face when starting an e-mail communication program, namely the popular misconception that members don't embrace e-mail as a form of communication and the very real issue of member privacy concerns. Callahan's E-mail Communication survey, conducted through our Online Survey Consortium, indicated that members do in fact embrace e-mail as an effective mode of communication and while members have privacy concerns, by and large they are willing to accept e-mail communication from their credit unions.

 
 

Callahan's E-mail Communication survey, conducted through our Online Survey Consortium, indicated that members do in fact embrace e-mail as an effective mode of communication and while members have privacy concerns, by and large they are willing to accept e-mail communication from their credit unions.

Where to Begin
Now that we've established that members do indeed use e-mail and ways to alleviate privacy concerns, you want to jump on the e-mail communication bandwagon. So, where do you start?

One of the biggest questions you need to ask before beginning an e-mail communication program is, ''How can my credit union collect e-mail addresses?'' A good way to do this is through an ''opt-in'' policy where a member has to actively select to receive e-mails from the credit union. You can promote your campaign on your website and let members sign-up to receive e-mails on line. Remember though, just because members have agreed to give you their e-mail address does not necessarily mean they have opted in for your whole e-mail communication campaign.

Another excellent way is to simply collect e-mail addresses from those members who have mailed in a request or question.

What to Send?
The best way to find out what members want is to ask. Callahan's E-mail Communication survey asked over 18,000 credit union members what they would be interested in receiving from their credit union. The results showed that members have a very good idea about what types of messages they would be interested in receiving and the frequency of those messages.

Among the most popular were messages that directly related to a member's accounts: balance alerts, loan payment notices, and unusual credit card charges. Surprisingly, members also expressed some interest in general communications such as, newsletters, website changes and financial planning information. (For those of you out there wondering, ''general communication is synonymous with ''marketings'').

In terms of how frequently members want to hear from their credit unions, 48% of members said that an e-mail once a month from their credit unions was enough. Only 43% of members were willing to accept more than one e-mail per month from their credit union.

The survey found surprisingly that members are typically very open to e-mail communication from their credit unions. However, their willingness comes with several large conditions. Even with that caveat, the research suggests that there are very significant marketing opportunities for credit unions to use this ''old piece of technology'' that has never reached its maximum potential.


For more information on Callahan's Online Credit Union Survey Consortium, and how your credit union can participate, please visit: SurveyConsortium

 

 

 

Nov. 19, 2001


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